Day Four at WREC 2014

By Dan Cash

08 August 2014

WREC2014 Day 4

Technical breakout sessions continued yesterday and I spent an interesting hour or so hearing about plans for renewable energy deployment in Africa. A common theme emerged - how to improve education in these countries so the capital associated with installing the infrastructure can be kept within the country and generate jobs.

Closer to home and several papers built on ideas mentioned in yesterday’s blog.

  • Eric Fraga from UCL’s chemical engineering department said they are investigating the use of photocatalytic reactors to produce hydrogen gas (as opposed to Methane mentioned yesterday) from solar radiation. Photovoltaics are currently more efficient for converting solar radiation into power however photocatalysis can allow energy to be stored as gas, as well as feed into other uses such as transport.
  • Phil Eames from Loughborough University discussed the storage of heat, firstly at large scale in Nuclear Power plants but also distributed stores in homes. These would then be controlled as part of a smart grid to manage the demand of a building.
  • Professor Zhao from the University of Hull introduced an innovative evaporative cooling system. Very high efficiencies were reported relative to traditional cooling equipment which could be interesting for providing comfort for buildings with high heat gains.
  • Helmut Muller from Green Building R&D Dusseldorf presented some great new ideas on the use of LED technology with micro-optics. Integrating LEDs into the edge of a glazed element that incorporates micro-optics allows light to be introduced into a space in a very discreet way. This reminds us that with LED sources we should continually challenge the way in which light is delivered. These sources allow more creative thinking than the standard tungsten halogen and compact fluorescent lights. With organic LEDs also on the horizon the possibilities will only increase.

LED is one technology having a real impact on energy reductions in buildings and costs are now such that the payback periods are reasonable. It has become clear over that photovoltaics have reached the same point too. Costs continue to fall and efficiency is on an upward trajectory. This is highlighted by the fact that German Feed-in Tariffs (payments from the government for energy supplied to the network) has been reduced to a level where people are looking to maximise the use of energy produced rather than export it to the grid. Families now need to consider buying a battery, another technology with costs headed in the right direction, or sell PV energy to the neighbours.


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